Thursday, November 17, 2005
Where are all the English beggars?
Get together any group of embittered gaijin, and no doubt the conversation will soon turn to language beggars, those Japanese who approach you in the street just to practise English on you. However, the strange thing for me is that I have never once in about eight years have anyone approach me in a fashion that might resemble the stereotype we all know and hate.
I have had exactly two people randomly speak to me in the train - once was in English, but he was from and a native of Sri Lanka, and the second, the typical oyaji salaryman conversed purely in Japanese! I had one other encounter at Suzuka one year, where a couple came to chat in English and Japanese with me, but it was more due to the common interest in F1 than a burning need to practice English. Maybe it's different up in Tokyo, but Osaka seems fortunately free of these beggars.
Funnily enough, the one person who came closest to being written off as a language beggar was my wife on our very first date!
Truth be told, as much of an annoyance as it was at the time, it's always an experience to converse with a new person and get a feel for who they are etc.
Plus, the chances of someone being a real creepazoid English beggar are pretty low. In Washington, DC (where I live now), I wouldn't think of humoring a stranger on the train who tried to spark up a conversation with me -- at least not when I'm alone.
In short, if it happens, shrug it off and see if you can get him to send you his book (I never got mine).
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